PLANNERS have approved changes to Washford Post Office and stores to allow the business to expand and ensure its viability.

Postmaster Neil Scofield wants to move the retail floor from the back of the Station Road building to the front room, where it used to be until 1991.

It would allow him to increase the size of the business trading floor by more than 60 per cent and bring it up to modern standards.

Old Cleeve parish councillors unanimously supported the plans, although they were aware of parking issues but said they were outweighed by the benefits to the community.

Somerset Council planning officer Russell Williams said Mr Scofield’s application was to change the lounge into a retail premises and a garage area for extra storage.

Mr Williams said a side door to the front of the property would also be reinstated as the main entrance to the Post Office.

He said: “It is commendable for an owner to seek to expand their business premises at the expense of residential accommodation.

“Being the sole retail property within Washford village, it is important to support efforts to enhance services in the interests of the local population and vitality of the settlement.”

Mr Williams said although a garage space would be lost, its size and location means it was impractical for it to have been used for parking anyway.

Mr Scofield and his partner Caroline Cook took over the Washford business earlier this year after relocating to West Somerset from Woolwich, London.

He also acts as postmaster for sub-Post Offices in Kilve and Wheddon Cross, which allows them to continue trading.